The New England Patriots are traveling to Hotlanta to take on the Falcons in the group’s first Sunday Night Football game of the 2013 season.
The Patriots are 3 – 0 while the Falcons are 1 – 2 but throw the records out the window in this matchup.
3 players to watch for:
RB Brandon Bolden
- Brandon Bolden filled the void left by injured RB Shane Vereen. Bolden rushed 3xs for 51 yards and caught the ball 5xs for 49 yards last Sunday against the Buccaneers. The Falcons had a fairly tough time stopping the Dolphins lead back Lamar Miller last Sunday, Miller rushed for 62 yards on 8 carries. Bolden and Miller are similar backs, both over 200 pounds and both around 5’10 and have explosive speed. Bolden may give the Falcons fits Sunday not only on the ground but through the air too. After Bolden had a great game against the Buccaneers look for New England to get him more involved in the offense.
RB Jason Snelling
- Steven Jackson is expected to miss the game against the New England Patriots, leaving Snelling to play the majority of the game against the Pats. Snelling isn’t only a threat on the ground but a threat in the passing game as well. Snelling rushed for 53 yards and had 59 yards receiving in a losing effort against the Dolphins. The Patriots linebackers, who have been good so far this season against backs coming out of the backfield, will need to step up again. Hightower has had a big role in shutting down runningbacks in the aerial game and will need to stop Snelling Sunday. Snelling has explosiveness that can be dangerous if he gets on the loose and the Patriots really don’t need another Falcons weapon to deal with.
DE Rob Ninkovich
- The Patriots defense is facing a high flying offense in the Falcons. Matt Ryan, a good QB, with weapons like Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones makes them a very hard offense to stop. Rodney White, of course, is part of the trio, but he has been dealing with injuries. Still, all of those weapons make life difficult for a defense. The Patriots can help out their secondary if they can provide pass rush against Ryan and the best chance of that is by Ninkovich. Ninkovich’s 11 total pressures rank 12th among all 4-3 defensive ends in the NFL and he will be going against an offensive linemen who ranks as the 2nd worst pass blocker in the NFL. Ninkovich has an advantage in this game and should make the Falcons offensive line pay and have a good game. If he can generate pressure on Ryan, enough to make him feel uncomfortable, the Patriots are looking good in the game.